Dept.: Research Professor, Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery
Neuroscience Focus Groups: Developmental Neuroscience, Disorders of the Nervous System, Sensory Systems
Hair cells are the sensory receptors for hearing and balance senses. They transduce mechanical stimuli into neural signals that are processed within auditory and vestibular circuits in the brain. Hair cells degenerate in response to ototoxins and intense noise, as well as during normal aging. Hair cell degeneration is common in humans and is a leading cause of hearing and balance disorders.
Mammals have limited capacity to regenerate hair cells, but avian species replace hair cells after damage, providing an excellent system to elucidate cellular and molecular mechanisms leading to hair cell replacement. Our lab studies the cellular and molecular mechanisms used by chickens and mice to form new hair cells during development and after damage. We use several methods and collaborative approaches to understand fundamental aspects of hair cell and hair cell progenitor biology, as well as to define manipulations that promote hair cell regeneration in mammals